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Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

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An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures of society? This exceedingly accessible guide to asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are conflicts that all of us need to address as we move through the world. Through interviews, cultural criticism, and memoir, ACE invites all readers to consider big-picture issues through the lens of asexuality, because every place that sexuality touches our world, asexuality does too. Journalist Angela Chen uses her own journey of self-discovery as an asexual person to unpretentiously educate and vulnerably connect with readers, effortlessly weaving analysis of sexuality and societally imposed norms with interviews of ace people. Among those included are the woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that "not wanting sex" was a sign of serious illness, and the man who grew up in an evangelical household and did everything "right," only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Also represented are disabled aces, aces of color, non-gender-conforming aces questioning whether their asexuality is a reaction against stereotypes, and aces who don't want romantic relationships asking how our society can make room for them.


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An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures of society? This exceedingly accessible guide to asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are conflicts that all of us need to address as we move through the world. Through interviews, cultural criticism, and memoir, ACE invites all readers to consider big-picture issues through the lens of asexuality, because every place that sexuality touches our world, asexuality does too. Journalist Angela Chen uses her own journey of self-discovery as an asexual person to unpretentiously educate and vulnerably connect with readers, effortlessly weaving analysis of sexuality and societally imposed norms with interviews of ace people. Among those included are the woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that "not wanting sex" was a sign of serious illness, and the man who grew up in an evangelical household and did everything "right," only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Also represented are disabled aces, aces of color, non-gender-conforming aces questioning whether their asexuality is a reaction against stereotypes, and aces who don't want romantic relationships asking how our society can make room for them.

30 review for Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

  1. 5 out of 5

    leo | 飛べ

    I’m here, I’m asexual, and I need this book more than I need cake

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    I'm always striving to grow as a person and expand my knowledge base, and the one area of queer spectrum that I probably need the most education in is asexuality. I've read nearly two dozen romance books with asexual characters, but I've never read a non-fiction book about asexuality until now. As someone who is far removed from the asexual world, I was really interested to learn more about asexuality from a more nuanced perspective. And I was really impressed by how Angela Chen approached the t I'm always striving to grow as a person and expand my knowledge base, and the one area of queer spectrum that I probably need the most education in is asexuality. I've read nearly two dozen romance books with asexual characters, but I've never read a non-fiction book about asexuality until now. As someone who is far removed from the asexual world, I was really interested to learn more about asexuality from a more nuanced perspective. And I was really impressed by how Angela Chen approached the topic. Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex is a dense, diverse, queer, feminist, and interesting book on asexuality and it's cultural, personal, and historical significance. I had never considered some of Angela Chen's talking points before. For example, she goes into details about how feminism and asexuality intersect, and how the focus on sexual liberation and therefore the heightened emphasis on more sex and more partners somehow became linked to being more "feminist" in many people's minds. She also going into detail about the complicated relationships between physical and mental disabilities and asexuality, and about race and age in the asexual community. There was a lot to unpack. I enjoyed how the author wove in personal stories from multiple sources, including herself. I also liked how she explored concepts that I find personally challenging to understand, like romantic love vs platonic love when attraction isn't involved. Though I found the story to be very interesting, I also found it to be dense and a bit clunky to get through. I read it between other books, at times unable to put it down and at other times struggling to keep my attention, which might just be a product of reading a non-fiction, more didactic type of story. However, overall, it was a very rewarding read for me, and I think it greatly furthered my understanding of the nuances of asexuality. A great read for those who are asexual or those who just want to learn more about asexuality, I would highly recommend Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex. *Copy provided in exchange for an honest review* goodreads|instagram|twitter|blog

  3. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    So appreciated this highly readable and thought-provoking book about asexuality. Angela Chen writes in an understandable and intelligent way about the nuanced and non-homogenous forms of asexuality, focusing on how we live in a society that glorifies sexual desire as default. I loved the many clear examples she provided of society’s over-fixation on sex and its treatment of sexual attraction as the norm. She includes a variety of ace voices that span intersections related to religion, sexual ori So appreciated this highly readable and thought-provoking book about asexuality. Angela Chen writes in an understandable and intelligent way about the nuanced and non-homogenous forms of asexuality, focusing on how we live in a society that glorifies sexual desire as default. I loved the many clear examples she provided of society’s over-fixation on sex and its treatment of sexual attraction as the norm. She includes a variety of ace voices that span intersections related to religion, sexual orientation, race, and more. Chen keeps this book interesting by writing about how asexuality intertwines with so many pressing societal topics, such as masculine gender roles, the rise of feminism and how being into kink or polyamory is often automatically (mis)equated with radical politics, and the importance of including ace folx in disability spaces and disabled folx in ace spaces. As someone who identifies as a relational anarchist, I loved the sections on the over-valuing of romance and amatonormativity. Here is a quote from that section: “The ubiquity of romantic subplots, even in books that aren’t romance novels, suggest that only stories with romance can involve big emotions and that romance is automatically more interesting than almost all the other stands of human experience. What if books focused more on the emotions that are generated from friendship, ambition, family, work? What if that intensity were just as elevated?” Overall I would highly recommend this book to those who want to learn more about asexuality. I will say that I am not asexual and I’ve been intrigued reading many five-star and highly positive reviews of this book from ace folx on Goodreads, as well as seeing a few one-star and more negative reviews of this book. So perhaps tune into that discourse too. One small yet important thing I didn’t love includes how toward the beginning of the book, there were a few times when Chen alluded to “attractive” people in society, and from my recollection those couple of times focused almost exclusively on white celebrities (and even if that had been because of something a friend or someone in real life said, that could have been pointed out). When the author mentions her romantic partner Noah, she refers to him as a straight white male who went to private school and took/takes vacations in France, yet didn’t really analyze that privilege or how it’s made him more able to act as a support system. I didn’t get the point of raising those dominant identities without critically interrogating them given how she does a nice job of doing that throughout the rest of the book. Anyway, I’ll end the review with another fabulous quote regarding amatonormativity: “Offering legal and social benefits only to the romantically attached suggests that the mere presence of romantic feeling elevates the care and deserves special protections, even though friendship and other forms of care, which can come with less obligation, can include more love, more feely given. Therefore, the legal and social privileges of marriage should be extended to all mutually consenting adults who wish for them.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    Wow, wow, wow...I'm not even sure where to begin. I'd like to preface this review with the fact that I don't know if I identify as ace. There's still a lot of things about me that I'm trying to figure out. With that being said, if there are any ownvoices reviews of this book I would recommend listening to their voices and perspectives on the topics covered in this book. Angela Chen does state in the forward that it is not her intention to represent or speak for the experiences of everyone who id Wow, wow, wow...I'm not even sure where to begin. I'd like to preface this review with the fact that I don't know if I identify as ace. There's still a lot of things about me that I'm trying to figure out. With that being said, if there are any ownvoices reviews of this book I would recommend listening to their voices and perspectives on the topics covered in this book. Angela Chen does state in the forward that it is not her intention to represent or speak for the experiences of everyone who identifies as ace, but to bring light to how compulsory sexuality impacts society. To be honest I often dread writing reviews for books like this because there's so much that I want to discuss, but so much that I have to leave out for the sake of a concise review. I was initially drawn to Ace because of my own lack of knowledge regarding asexuality. As discussed by Chen, a lot of us are taught that asexuality is the equivalent of being sex repulsed and while some individuals do have that experience, it is dangerous to make the assumption and apply it to an entire group. Ace was an intense experience for me as a reader. As a reviewer most people know that I’m intrigued by any book that makes a huge impact or opens up doors for me to learn something new. However, this book was different. It literally changed the way in which I’ve been framing my entire perceptions of sex, desire, romantic/intimate relationships, the sexualizing of politics, and more. I’ve had questions about how I even view sex and relationships and this book clarified a lot of the ways in which I’ve handled past relationships and sexual encounters. Understand that this book is more than the “dumping of information” in relation to asexuality. It is a book that utilizes the history of asexuality to frame how our entire society functions. One of the greatest takeaways of this book is the importance of language and having the right vocabulary to describe our experiences. Chen is very adamant in conveying that this does not mean that we police language, but we think about how compulsory sexuality has altered our understanding of how humans interact with each other. For example, Chen emphasizes that words like “romance” and “intimacy” are aligned with individuals who engage in some form of a sexual relationship, negating the idea that romance and intimacy can happen between friends. It negates the possibility of falling in love with friends or having an intimate encounter with people that aren’t sexual in nature. It takes away the idea that heartbreak can be a result of breaking up with a friend. Chen even digs further in making sure readers understand the difference between words like sexual attraction and sexual drive. The two terms are used interchangeably allowing people to believe that those who are on the ace spectrum can’t have the physical desire to have sex. I won’t lie and say that this wasn’t a mind blowing distinction for me. Understanding that it is possible to feel the physical need to release sexual tension without attributing this specific desire to any one person completely undid everything that I thought I understood about myself. While I could go on and on about the amazing content within in this book, I do realize that this a review and not a paper. Some other interesting topics that Chen addresses in this book include how sex has been politicized, intersectionality as it pertains to those who identify across many marginalized groups as well as being ace (i.e. being Black and ace, being disabled and ace), the role religion plays in compulsory sex, the experiences for men who identify as ace, the relationship between the medical field and asexuality, the gold star ace, and asexuality and consent. In all of this Chen reiterates the importance of communication (this is why it’s so important to have the right vocabulary/words to be able to describe our experiences). Overall, this was such a powerful read. Chen writes in a fluid and accessible way that it’s a good entry point for those who don’t have a strong understanding of what it means to identify as asexual. Because there is a lot of information, I can easily see some individuals becoming overwhelmed. I would definitely recommend taking it slow. This is easily one of the most important books that I’ve read in my lifetime and I recommend that everyone pick it up.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    I RECEIVED A DRC OF THIS BOOK FROM BEACON PRESS VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU. My Review: This is the most eye-opening read of 2020. "The map is not the territory" is a truism I'd stopped short of applying to sexual attraction. Behavior, yes, but not attraction, that "energy {aces} have no idea what {allos} are talking about." Attraction is an energy; I'm so deep in its gravity well, see the world so completely through its lens, that I'm blankly surprised that others don't. Author Chen continues my s I RECEIVED A DRC OF THIS BOOK FROM BEACON PRESS VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU. My Review: This is the most eye-opening read of 2020. "The map is not the territory" is a truism I'd stopped short of applying to sexual attraction. Behavior, yes, but not attraction, that "energy {aces} have no idea what {allos} are talking about." Attraction is an energy; I'm so deep in its gravity well, see the world so completely through its lens, that I'm blankly surprised that others don't. Author Chen continues my seventh-decade growth spurt. Aces! Allos! Things I'd sorta-kinda heard about a while ago, maybe, but had zero context for. This is fascinating. The ace world is not an obligation. Nobody needs to identify, nobody is trapped, nobody needs to stay forever and pledge allegiance. The words are gifts. If you know which terms to search, you know how to find others who might have something to teach. As an old queer gent, one whose queerness goes beyond being vanilla-gay, I've been in the place of ace and aro people, being judged and branded as abnormal within a community that is itself branded as abnormal by outsiders. The principal issue is, if we are made invisible, or mainstreamed as we now call it, those of us in actual danger of our lives (in intolerant countries like Dagestan and Nigeria) do not realize there is a large and thriving world where we're simply ourselves, not monstrous or dangerous or Other: Normal is often treated as a moral judgment, when it is often simply a statistical matter. The question of what everyone else is doing is less important than the question of what works for the two people in the actual relationship. It matters that everyone’s needs are carefully considered and respected, not that everyone is doing the same thing. –and– “It seems that the message is ‘we have liberated our sexuality, therefore we must now celebrate it and have as much sex as we want,’” says Jo, an ace policy worker in Australia. “Except ‘as much sex as we want’ is always lots of sex and not no sex, because then we are oppressed, or possibly repressed, and we’re either not being our true authentic selves, or we haven’t discovered this crucial side of ourselves that is our sexuality in relation to other people, or we haven’t grown up properly or awakened yet.” I wanted lots of sex most of my life; I'm old enough now that the Urge is muted, and doesn't bedevil my every thought. I have a partner whose presence in my world is a cause for joy and celebration. He's a gift. And also mixed race, three and a half decades younger than me, and just starting what I hope will be a long and happy career as a chef. I won't be there to see his full-on selfhood; I will be in his full-on selfhood because our relationship has formed each of us as we are now. I'm a whole lot nicer with him than I was without him. We're neither ace nor aro; we're Othered by the nature of our connection. And, like Author Chen's subject, intergenerational love is not visible or, when revealed, well thought of. He's an adult, was when we met, but there lingers about an old man and a young man the disagreeable whiff of pedophilia. People I consider dear and close friends simply clam up and/or change the subject when I talk about him, have never ever one time asked how he's doing on the front lines of the plague's workers (whom do you imagine makes the delivery food you're eating?), where if he was a she they'd be solicitous and interested. As bitter as that sounds, the pain of it is old and familiar, as it has always been this way. It's simply a fact that Author Chen presents in a slightly different light, one that shines as bright on bedrock homophobia as it does on prejudices more visible: Picture whiteness as a neutral backdrop, a white wall. It is easier to paint a white wall light blue than it is to paint a dark green wall light blue. The dominant media is filled with images of many types of white people; white people, for the most part, have the freedom to be anything they like. People of color need to scrub away the dark green—racial stereotypes and expectations—before determining whether we are really ace. For white read straight; and then examine y'all's consciences. The basic argument Author Chen makes in this deeply felt, thoroughly researched book is, to me at least, one that includes me at every level: Relationships should always be a game of mix and match, not a puzzle that you have to perfectly snap into, or a Jenga tower that will collapse as soon as you try to wiggle one block out of place. Customizability is the best part, yet most people try so hard to make their relationship stick to its premade form, a one-size-fits-all shape. Many people don’t take advantage of their own freedom. All the fascinating stuff about people not like me aside, I read this book to hear that phrase, the simple formulation that explains me to myself. I haven't been on Earth this long not to realize when I'm being spoken to. There is nothing whatsoever in this that is any way a threat to you, your relationship, and the life you've built. Why, then, are so many of you demonizing and rejecting people who are simply doing exactly what you're doing...finding, building, living a relationship to their authentic selves and to others? Author Chen's words are direct and simple, her subject wildly important, and her conclusions elegantly simple. I challenge you to challenge yourself in this unpleasant moment of our shared history, with viruses and unrest and human ugliness pounding our sleepy complacent senses of self, to stretch out and incorporate more ways of being into your head and your life. Build back better isn't, or needn't be, an empty slogan.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    I just applied for a giveaway of this! As someone on the ace spectrum this is Relevant to my Interests.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lily Herman

    Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a book. I legitimately don't even know where to begin. I feel like my mind expanded to twice its size over the course of reading this. Ace isn't simply about the asexual community; it's as much about how our we view desire, romance, sex, sexuality, and cultural "necessities" like marriage—and how we should question everything that's considered innate to our nature. This book is absolutely for those who want to learn more about asexuality and our societal norms and pressur Wow. Wow, wow, wow. What a book. I legitimately don't even know where to begin. I feel like my mind expanded to twice its size over the course of reading this. Ace isn't simply about the asexual community; it's as much about how our we view desire, romance, sex, sexuality, and cultural "necessities" like marriage—and how we should question everything that's considered innate to our nature. This book is absolutely for those who want to learn more about asexuality and our societal norms and pressures around sex, but I'd argue that for that reason, everyone needs to read it. I also appreciated how Chen laced intersectionality into her work, including looking at how identities like race, disability, religion, geography, class, education, and gender are inherently interwoven with sexuality and sexual orientation. Additionally, it was equally important that she pointed out at the get-go that her writing would be somewhat narrowed to more Western, educated, and middle- or high-income populations given the nature of who has access to material on asexuality as well as the time and resources to do that internal work. This is definitely a denser and more academic read, so I recommend breaking it up a little bit. But I think it should be required reading for everybody.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This is more of a scholarly look that contextualizes asexuality with historical and intersectional considerations (as well as the author’s own experiences). It centralize the ace experience making the others (referred to as allos) the outsiders "for once" - and also covers the difference between medical and psychological ace "diagnosis" or labeling, and also discusses the varieties of ace alongside how romance figures into the experience, or doesn't. Highly recommended to develop an understandin This is more of a scholarly look that contextualizes asexuality with historical and intersectional considerations (as well as the author’s own experiences). It centralize the ace experience making the others (referred to as allos) the outsiders "for once" - and also covers the difference between medical and psychological ace "diagnosis" or labeling, and also discusses the varieties of ace alongside how romance figures into the experience, or doesn't. Highly recommended to develop an understanding of one of the identities hidden in the + of lgbtq+.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maia

    This is a short and engaging work of nonfiction which examines the impacts of compulsive sexuality and sexual norms. Angela Chen interviewed hundreds of people who identify within the ace spectrum, from other writers and researchers to podcasters to college students. I was particularly glad to read the chapters digging into the intersection of asexuality with disability, and the intersection of asexuality with race. The end theme of the book is simple: all of us would be more free to pursue our This is a short and engaging work of nonfiction which examines the impacts of compulsive sexuality and sexual norms. Angela Chen interviewed hundreds of people who identify within the ace spectrum, from other writers and researchers to podcasters to college students. I was particularly glad to read the chapters digging into the intersection of asexuality with disability, and the intersection of asexuality with race. The end theme of the book is simple: all of us would be more free to pursue our genuine desires if we strip away the assumptions around sex and relationships, and decide what it is we actually want, even if that doesn't looks like what society expects.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    This was an incredibly illuminating exploration of asexuality, both on its own terms but also in contrast to allosexuality. I really enjoyed to exploration of how different asexual people come to understand this part of their identity, why our culture puts so much emphasis on the presence of sexual desire as a key component of partnerships, and different expressions of asexual identity. Highly recommend if you are like me and were looking for something to explain asexual experience in a clear an This was an incredibly illuminating exploration of asexuality, both on its own terms but also in contrast to allosexuality. I really enjoyed to exploration of how different asexual people come to understand this part of their identity, why our culture puts so much emphasis on the presence of sexual desire as a key component of partnerships, and different expressions of asexual identity. Highly recommend if you are like me and were looking for something to explain asexual experience in a clear and cogent nonfiction narrative

  11. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    I received an ARC from an ARC fairy and this is my honest review! CW: mentions of acephobia 4.5/5 When I first heard about this book, I got super excited. A new nonfiction book examining asexuality? Something I can point to for people who want to know more about this? And one that's written by someone who's ace? So, so excited. I'm really glad I read this one because it's super diverse and looks at basically any intersection that asexuality can have. Race (the author is Chinese herself), gender (bo I received an ARC from an ARC fairy and this is my honest review! CW: mentions of acephobia 4.5/5 When I first heard about this book, I got super excited. A new nonfiction book examining asexuality? Something I can point to for people who want to know more about this? And one that's written by someone who's ace? So, so excited. I'm really glad I read this one because it's super diverse and looks at basically any intersection that asexuality can have. Race (the author is Chinese herself), gender (both cis and trans identities), disability, trauma and rape, romantic identifications, across the spectrum, etc. It really covered everything you might think about, showing that asexuality brings a lot to the table to the conversation of sexuality. I really enjoyed this and I think that it's a must read for aces to consider the space that we inhabit and the intersectionality of our wonderfully diverse community, as well as for allosexual (aka feel sexual attraction) folk so they can become more inclusive and remove acephobia from their world. It was just excellent and definitely one I'll end up having on my shelf!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

    I don’t even know where to start with my review, but just know this- the beautiful feeling of being seen, of being validated, is precious and happens so rarely for us ace folx so this is...everything. Hand this to all ace/aro spec folx, allo folx, and questioning friends-this explains it all far better than I ever could!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Quick review (ha! possible for me?) for a book that's been holding up my review queue. This was an excellent book about what it means to be asexual, and how we think about sexuality in general. The best thing about it isn't the way it explains asexuality, or the ace identity (which is extremely varied! as is all sexuality and forms of identity) but the way that it takes that premise and then opens it further. Chen posits that by acknowledging asexuality and striving to understand it further, we Quick review (ha! possible for me?) for a book that's been holding up my review queue. This was an excellent book about what it means to be asexual, and how we think about sexuality in general. The best thing about it isn't the way it explains asexuality, or the ace identity (which is extremely varied! as is all sexuality and forms of identity) but the way that it takes that premise and then opens it further. Chen posits that by acknowledging asexuality and striving to understand it further, we also will have a better, more balanced view of the spectrum of sexual identity and desire. Her basis for this is the idea of compulsory sexuality (which is akin to the idea of compulsory heterosexuality): The idea that the desire to have sex is a basic human impulse that everyone should have, is the norm, the standard, and everything else is by definition abnormal and thus wrong. She posits that a full range of human sexuality by definition would include people who do not want to have sex, all the way from the most sex-averse ace, to aces who sometimes engage in sex for various reasons, to people with "average" amounts of sexual desire, to someone who craves sexual activity more than the average person. Compulsory sexuality as a cultural basis for thinking about sex is inherently flawed and harmful. The book is also sort of a mythbuster on what it means to be ace. As someone who is on the ace spectrum myself, I did get the feeling that this book was aimed not just at people like me but to all people, as a tool of awareness and education. It's equal parts diving into the variations present in the ace community (not all ace people are sex averse! not all aces are celibate! being ace is not a clinical problem that can be fixed with meds! etc.) and reframing the discussions about sexuality in general. It was a very good book. I confess I did get overwhelmed while reading it and feel like I need to read it again in order to really absorb some of it's ideas. This is also why I have taken forever to write this review! Highly recommended for anyone, but especially people who are interested in human sexuality, and learning about asexuality from a source that is balanced and informed. "It is cause for celebration whenever anyone is, to the best of their ability, making their own choices free from pressure—and also working to change the social and political structures that will let everyone else have that same sexual freedom, and freedom of other kinds, too.” “The goal of ace liberation is simply the goal of true sexual and romantic freedom for everyone. A society that is welcoming to aces can never be compatible with rape culture; with misogyny, racism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia; with current hierarchies of romance and friendship; and with contractual notions of consent. It is a society that respects choice and highlights the pleasure that can be found everywhere in our lives. I believe that all this is possible.” [4.5 stars]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rhian Pritchard

    Finally, finally, finally, I have a book about asexuality that I could give to my parents. It covers asexuality 101, and so, so much more than that. It is a relief to have such a thorough description and investigation of what asexuality can be. This book is brilliantly and necessarily intersectional, a breath of fresh air. It covers feminism, racism, ableism, and how all of these things and more intersect with compulsory sexuality. In fact I think I could give it to many of my allo allies, desp Finally, finally, finally, I have a book about asexuality that I could give to my parents. It covers asexuality 101, and so, so much more than that. It is a relief to have such a thorough description and investigation of what asexuality can be. This book is brilliantly and necessarily intersectional, a breath of fresh air. It covers feminism, racism, ableism, and how all of these things and more intersect with compulsory sexuality. In fact I think I could give it to many of my allo allies, despite its density, and I think that not only would they find it absolutely fucking fascinating and eye opening, I think it would enrich their understanding of themselves and the way that sexuality interacts with culture and society from an entirely new perspective. I tend to consider myself fairly connected to and well-versed in ace discourse. However, this book gave words and definitions to concepts that I have never been able to fully tease out or understand, let alone voice. A few years ago, I tried writing a novel that was based in a failed utopia - ironically, I couldn’t address the theme properly because to destroy a utopia you have to built it clearly enough to find its flaws, and I couldn’t imagine how to make a society that I would want to live in, let alone collapse it. It is only with this book that some of those tangled issues have been pulled out and laid flat, and the stage of beginning to think about possible solutions can begin. Possible futures. This is such an incredibly thoughtful and lovely and optimistic book. It has opened my eyes to the many, many possibly ways to be ace, and to be happy, that I hope will one day be mainstream knowledge.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rhea (Rufus Reads)

    Not a page is wasted in this book! Chen has done incredible research, and peppered her lived experiences as an asexual person throughout. It's eye-opening to see how compulsory sexuality runs our world, and people who don't experience sexual attraction are labelled as 'broken'. Not only for asexuals, this norm also hurts allosexuals (people who do experience sexual attraction) by warping concepts of consent, levels of sexual desire, perception of masculinity, and sexuality's many complex interse Not a page is wasted in this book! Chen has done incredible research, and peppered her lived experiences as an asexual person throughout. It's eye-opening to see how compulsory sexuality runs our world, and people who don't experience sexual attraction are labelled as 'broken'. Not only for asexuals, this norm also hurts allosexuals (people who do experience sexual attraction) by warping concepts of consent, levels of sexual desire, perception of masculinity, and sexuality's many complex intersections with disability, race, class, and gender. I couldn't possibly do a good job summarising all of it. Definitely loads to unpack in this book, but it's written brilliantly, and makes for an engaging read - even when covering heavy-handed topics like insight fallacy (that understanding something will pave the way to solve it), amatonormativity (social assumptions about romance), and hermeneutical injustice (lack of understanding due to deficit social experiences, typically in marginalized groups). This is the kind of non fiction I absolutely love to read. It isn't written to gatekeep, but to engage with the world. It's inclusive in every way possible. And it gives the reader a completely new lens to view the world through - and to make a little more sense of their identity and life. Fully recommend, whether you identify as asexual or not.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shelby

    DNF. As someone who identifies as asexual, I was excited to read this, but did not even make it through the first chapter before having to stop. While the author acknowledged in the forward that asexuality is this large spectrum, she then goes in to what asexuality is. I don't care if you've talked to one other ace person or a hundred. You can boil down ever ace experience into one neat little package and deliver it to the masses for their convenience. DNF. As someone who identifies as asexual, I was excited to read this, but did not even make it through the first chapter before having to stop. While the author acknowledged in the forward that asexuality is this large spectrum, she then goes in to what asexuality is. I don't care if you've talked to one other ace person or a hundred. You can boil down ever ace experience into one neat little package and deliver it to the masses for their convenience.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Megan Derr

    Speaking as an asexual, I couldn't even finish the free sample of this book. It's poisonous. Speaking as an asexual, I couldn't even finish the free sample of this book. It's poisonous.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Swankivy

    I really appreciate this book partly because it felt personal. There are parts of it that shift away from personal narratives to discuss history, fact, definition, or neutral events, but most of it came through a specific perspective that compares, contrasts, and relates the content: it's the perspective of the author. And that's not a down side at all--it reminds us that the broad spectrum of asexual experience, asexual history, asexual definition, and asexual justice is always ultimately perso I really appreciate this book partly because it felt personal. There are parts of it that shift away from personal narratives to discuss history, fact, definition, or neutral events, but most of it came through a specific perspective that compares, contrasts, and relates the content: it's the perspective of the author. And that's not a down side at all--it reminds us that the broad spectrum of asexual experience, asexual history, asexual definition, and asexual justice is always ultimately personal. We are each one person in the thick of all this, finding our way. I like how the beginning contrasted a sex-repulsed person's very obvious asexuality with a more confusing self-discovery that had the author struggling to pick apart what sexual attraction is and why it was not the same thing as being interested in or willing to have sex. The focus on developing language for it and understanding ourselves through it was really refreshing. And as we read more about the history, the "trap" of defining ourselves through lack, the evolution of a population that was dawning in its specific organization as the internet emerged, and the things we share despite extremely variable experiences, we can understand it in macro by looking at it in micro. I was head-nodding a lot at the descriptions of how various types of attraction break down and why it's important--even if a lot of people have experienced their aesthetic and sensual and romantic and sexual attraction toward the same people in a way that seems synchronous, asexual people might find a few of those off the table and only some of them remaining, and don't know how to proceed because they're told they "can't" want one thing and not the others. But it's so interesting that non-aces who do experience sexual attraction but NOT some of the other things that often go with it might also find these concepts useful and applicable in their lives, and I loved the discussion of that, along with so many oh-so-relatable examples about not finding "hot" people hot at all when they do the "hot" things and not being able to recognize the "energy" everyone is supposedly putting out and receiving. I appreciate the care taken to acknowledge the effect of a person's socioeconomic and cultural status on their experience of sexuality and asexuality, too. I especially like how in Chapter 3 there was an examination of how heterosexuality is WAY more than just an orientation that happens to be the most popular one! It's a huge institution designed to influence our choices, from who we mate with to how we present ourselves in society (and what is good to attract, while there are other things we "should" want to avoid appearing like). Heterosexuality can seem insidious and oppressive if it's used against a person, and even for those who haven't been particularly harmed through its pervasiveness have certainly had it inform their process of coming to an adult identity and "deciding" what they like. The discussion that follows from this about compulsory sexuality and how it affects asexual people is really nuanced and rang very true. Sometimes it can be hard to understand from outside how it can hurt so intensely and so pervasively to be told Every Single Healthy Person Is Sexual and how terribly it can affect you if so many people take this as given when they enter into a relationship with you (or realize it has been true all along when they already had a relationship with you). What that assumption does to a relationship, how it makes them see you differently, how the urge to "fix" asexual people because of compulsory sexuality can manifest from violence to condescending media representation, how the things that hurt us the most are often done in the interest of "helping us." I have probably been hurt the most in my life by people who think they're hounding me and interrogating me for MY own good--and it really is amazing how few of them have ever considered whether THEIR basic assumption about sexuality could be fundamentally mistaken. Their utter unwillingness to consider such things is really telling; we live in a society that enables such people to never question this "basic" belief, and it really is tragic that so many of us have been hurt by people who claim they want to help us. The exploration of why asexuality needs to be talked about was really special too. I liked that there was a pretty extensive discussion of various experiences of people who thought something was wrong with them and what that did to their lives, and why it's not the same as people just wanting "recognition" for no reason if we live in a society that CENTERS the thing we don't experience. I've personally encountered the aggressive, HA-GOTCHA screed of "IF I DON'T LIKE SOCCER LIKE MOST MEN, DOES THAT MEAN *I* DESERVE A GROUP FOR SOMETHING I'M NOT INTERESTED IN!?" plenty of times, from people who seem really inappropriately angry that someone like me might be getting attention they don't ~deserve~. Yes, sir, if your life was deeply affected by and shaped by your lack of interest in something, and you'd had people trying to pressure you into it for decades, and your society was set up to make you think something was wrong with you if you didn't like it, and you were urged to undergo physical and mental interventions to get you to start liking it, and everyone you talked to had an exaggerated, intense judgment of you for what you weren't into (which may or may not lead to disrespect, harassment, intentional triggering, or violence), well . . . yeah, sure, I think you very well "deserve" a group. (But I also wouldn't be in the comments field of a "I HATE FOOTBALL AND NO ONE UNDERSTANDS" organization telling them they don't deserve to have that conversation, because if they want to have it, I'm not invested at all in taking it away from them. The reverse is not true.) I never took the liberties the author took with trying to jump-start a typical sexual experience, but I very much recognized the pressures she mentions: that women, if they are not sexually adventurous, are assumed repressed, and that if we believe we are not repressed and yet still don't want sex, we need to access some kind of intervention or therapy to get us in touch with ourselves, with the supposition that that desire IS in us somewhere and we will never know our "real" selves if we don't realize that everyone (including women) wants sex. I was actually once harassed and shamed on Twitter by someone who insisted that asexuality is inherently an anti-feminist and oppressive identity! The person said it was utterly irresponsible of me to "trick" women into thinking they could have no desire and that could be okay, and that I was shamefully undoing decades of women's lib to reiterate conservative ideologies that let women be okay with "not admitting" their sexual appetites and being ashamed of their desires. Obviously any real feminist should understand that the issue is about choice, not about how often and to what extent you say yes. If you don't have the freedom to say yes on your own terms, yes, you're oppressed. And that includes also being able to say no whenever it suits you. If "no, always, forever" isn't available as an option, it's not really choice. I liked the information about sex-negative feminism from the early 1980s because that was new information to me! I recognized its effects in the reality of my life, but I didn't know the specifics, and it was really enlightening to read about! And reading about Lauren, one of the interviewees who was unfortunate enough to encounter a mentor who was aggressive about trying to program her into believing asexuality wasn't real and if she was asexual she would never be a good writer because it meant she lacked passion . . . I've had that said to me and it's so baffling. I was literally told once that sexual passion was THE root of all motivation and passion for everyone, so it was impossible for me to be a decent writer if I lacked this. I would need to get in touch with it, STAT. Gee, I wonder why so many people need to believe that sexual attraction and sexual desire are an inherent part of being human and that we literally can't have human desires without it? (And as an aside about Lauren's story, what does it say about the predictability of these scenarios that I KNEW the man who manipulated her into thinking she would never amount to anything unless she ditched asexuality would eventually proposition her, then shame her when she refused? Surprise: another man who somehow thinks he loves a woman but is routinely manipulative and condescending, then FURIOUS when she ultimately will not become the thing he has been trying to sculpt her into.) I love the discussion of the author's reasoning for having a one-night stand to prove she was not being held back by Puritan notions about saving oneself. It was really fascinating to me as a person who's heard all the same things but was never driven in that direction. I really related, though, to the section about caveats afterwards; that we as aces always feel like we have to qualify our aceness and explain that we're ace but not in the BAD way that the other person is probably thinking. (And that reassuring others that the stereotypes about aces aren't true for us is indirectly insulting to some other aces and can introduce or reinforce the stereotypes for our conversation partner.) The section on the ace community being "whitewashed" was especially important for me to read. As an ace activist who noticed the whitewashing a long time ago and always tries to listen when aces of color talk about their experience, I very much appreciate a whole spotlight on it to hear their stories. The intersection of their racial minority status with their aceness is such an important discussion topic--how much they're sexualized or not sexualized, what beliefs about them feed into who they become and how they react to their own sexual attraction or perception of receiving sexual attraction from someone else, what kind of unique cultural pressures are they reacting to or perceived to be reacting to--it's a lot of the same stuff other people told me during my own research that I by definition can't experience because I'm white. These aces existing in my community and talking about their experiences this way led me to encourage journalists and reporters to include non-white participants whenever they contacted me for my perspective. (I also like to encourage them to reach out to neurodivergent and disabled aces.) I also really like the exploration of ace people's choices in how they present themselves. I too have been confronted with "HA GOTCHA" commentary about how I absolutely WOULD NOT dress the way I do if I was asexual and therefore I am not. In other words, if I ever appear in any way desirable to someone, a) it was calculated, intentional; and b) if my appearance might make someone want to have sex with me, I also obviously want to have sex with someone, if not specifically them. It's preposterous, but SO often thrown around as "proof" that any attractive asexual person is a liar. (And of course, if we're not particularly attractive or don't, by their perception, "try," then THAT'S the reason we CLAIM to be asexual--because no one wants us. Ta-dah! No way we present ourselves validates an asexual identity! Surprise!) The next chapter on disability highlighted similar issues regarding the intersection of desexualization and physical existence and the way disabled bodies are thought unsexy--which makes it complicated for asexual disabled people to "own" their asexuality and determine whether it's "really" just a symptom (and whether you can even divorce it from your physical existence at a certain point), and how some disabled people and some asexual people are against seeing the two as possibly intertwined because of how much focus there is in both communities about not wanting to be seen as each other. The discussion of a line between romantic love and friendship love was really illuminating! I related a lot to what the author talked about with regard to compelling female friendships and how they can involve physical and emotional intimacy down to kisses and pet names without it meaning you are sexually attracted to the person, and our cultural obsession with saying you MUST be sexually involved (or must want to be) if your care for someone increases beyond a certain strength is really limiting when it comes to relationships so many people really do experience. It has always been weird to me, as the author discusses, that sex without love is accepted as possible but love without sex is treated like an impossibility. I found myself head-nodding in response to people saying they'd been told it's surprising they're single; happens to me all the time, and as a woman past 40, sometimes "you seem great, can't believe you're single" is paired with "so what's the secret thing that's wrong with you?" The examination of consent in a relationship was great too. I've had some disappointing conversations with people who literally believe there is a baseline amount of sex they are guaranteed in a relationship unless the other person explicitly opts out and they agree to that opting out. Otherwise, how convenient, it happens that the Decent Person's Consensus On How Much Sex They Are Owed also happens to be the amount and type of sex they personally want! You don't even have to talk about it because the person who won't offer it is in the wrong if they won't! And counseling will always lean toward figuring out how to make the less sexual person accommodate those needs, without asking the more sexual person why they feel entitled to expect and demand them from an unwilling partner! I also really liked the nuanced discussion of complicated consent--beyond the yes and no binary. The author is also really gifted in using gently accessible language. It was occasionally just unusually artful for coverage of a subject like this, which I appreciated--it really was a pleasure to read writing-style-wise even though the subject matter itself is also an interest of mine. I like that it was clear and readable while still having some voice and personality and some funny phrasing (references to memes or calling people "assholes" was a fun reminder that this is a delightful person's perspective, not just a recitation of ace-related stuff). There were several revealing sections where the author shared her personal prejudices/reactions and her analysis of them, or her history of growing through experiences she wishes she hadn't had to live the way she did. I enjoyed it and thought it was both an artistic success and a very important book for anyone who wants to understand sexual diversity.

  19. 4 out of 5

    steph // bookplaits

    Hey, look at me rating a nonfiction book 5 stars! Although this book is a bit limited in scope (Chen is upfront about this in the author’s note), what she did cover – and in a fairly short amount of space too – is incredible. I think many people could gain a lot from this book, and I really hope it reaches a wide audience. However, in the UK it seems that the only place to get a copy at the moment is via Amazon or through purchasing a gift membership on Libro.fm. The latter is what I did, but I Hey, look at me rating a nonfiction book 5 stars! Although this book is a bit limited in scope (Chen is upfront about this in the author’s note), what she did cover – and in a fairly short amount of space too – is incredible. I think many people could gain a lot from this book, and I really hope it reaches a wide audience. However, in the UK it seems that the only place to get a copy at the moment is via Amazon or through purchasing a gift membership on Libro.fm. The latter is what I did, but I definitely want a print or ebook copy eventually because I want to reread and highlight EVERYTHING. This book is a mixture of Chen’s experiences as an asexual person herself, interviews she conducted with fellow aces, and her research. I thought the writing was very engaging, and hearing from of a wide variety of aces (non-binary aces, trans aces, aces of colour, aces who are in relationships with allosexual partners, sex-repulsed aces, sex-favourable aces, etc.) really drives home the author's point about asexuality being a spectrum. I really loved how the book is informative, yet has such a personal touch; on that note, I’m only just getting used to identifying as ace, so hearing real-life experiences and reading about them on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) website has been hugely beneficial. Chen wrote about the various ways in which asexuality can intersect, such as with race, gender and disability, with her interviews with aces who experience these intersections showing just how these affect one another and are connected. She also goes into the ways in which sex (and romance) are so ingrained in general society; I mean, I was aware of 'compulsory heterosexuality', but her discussion of 'compulsory sexuality' – that everyone who is 'normal' desires sex – was an extra layer to this that I found really interesting. Overall, if it’s not obvious, I really recommend this book! I’m looking forward to rereading it at some point with a highlighter handy. 💜

  20. 5 out of 5

    jenny✨

    I'm so fucking excited for this. I'm so fucking excited for this.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    This book opened my eyes to the world of Aces and helped me to see sex and desire and romance as different things. I think the book got a little tedious in parts. I liked it and learned a lot.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shari (colourmeread)

    It’s hard to describe everything I took away from this book. There were so many moments when I wanted to pull out a highlighter and underline paragraph after paragraph (not my copy, so I resisted) as I saw myself in the experiences of the author and other aces interviewed for the book. Asexuality is something I didn’t know about until the last couple of years, and it’s something that’s still not widely known, understood, or talked about. Chen writes in an engaging manner that’s clear and easy to It’s hard to describe everything I took away from this book. There were so many moments when I wanted to pull out a highlighter and underline paragraph after paragraph (not my copy, so I resisted) as I saw myself in the experiences of the author and other aces interviewed for the book. Asexuality is something I didn’t know about until the last couple of years, and it’s something that’s still not widely known, understood, or talked about. Chen writes in an engaging manner that’s clear and easy to understand. Chapters that covered concepts like compulsory sexuality, amatonormativity, and hermeneutical injustice (among others) were personally very informative for me. Chen unpacks a lot about asexuality and how it relates to feminism, disability, race, politics, gender roles, etc. I really appreciated how Chen interviewed aces from a variety of backgrounds and sexual orientations. It helped me see that asexuality is a spectrum and as someone who is just getting used to identifying as ace, this was very freeing. Chen also delves into how sex and romance are highly embedded in society and how it perpetuates the idea that something must be ‘wrong’ with asexuals, producing stereotypes and going so far as suggesting treatments to increase libido/desire. Ace is a thought-provoking social criticism of how society views sex, desire, and relationships. People often feel pressured to ‘put out’, partners feel they’re depriving their significant others if they say no, and some marital laws don’t recognize that rape can still happen in marriage. I had many lightbulb moments and instances when I felt my mind was being blown with these realizations. Sex is so widely accepted in our society that we don’t really question it, with many people just going along with things because it’s what’s ‘normal’. I wish a book like this existed when I was younger. Ace made me feel seen, heard, and understood. I hope more books about asexuality exist and that more representation in media and books come along. If it’s not obvious already, I highly recommend this book. Whether you identify as ace or allo (non-asexual), or you’re questioning, this book is for you. It might help you learn more about yourself, and at least help you better understand lived experiences different from your own. I really hope this book continues to reach a wider audience!

  23. 4 out of 5

    abbie

    This is a very educational and intersectional book on asexuality. Although it is educational, it's told through anectodal stories of various ace people Chen has interviewed, making it an easier read to comprehend. I really like that it covers the following topics: ace differences and expectations in men vs women; the intersectionality of sexuality, race, and gender; asexuality and disabilities, asexuality and romance, platonic love, and queer platonic partners; ace & aromanticism; consent and it' This is a very educational and intersectional book on asexuality. Although it is educational, it's told through anectodal stories of various ace people Chen has interviewed, making it an easier read to comprehend. I really like that it covers the following topics: ace differences and expectations in men vs women; the intersectionality of sexuality, race, and gender; asexuality and disabilities, asexuality and romance, platonic love, and queer platonic partners; ace & aromanticism; consent and it's role in ace-allo relationships; and hermeneutical injustice. All of these topics, and more, really increased my knowledge of asexuality and the intersectionality of it. There's really nothing about this book I didn't enjoy. I was able to connect to many of the stories and interviewees, and where I didn't connect, I was glad to be learning more about the ace community and of people from various other communities that are also a part of the ace community, such as people of different races and people with disabilities, to name a few. This is an OV review, therefore I have connected very heavily to this book. If you're not part of the ace community, I still do recommend that if you found your way to this review, you still do consider reading this book. Maybe it can help you better support and understand your ace friend, partner, sibling, child, or just become a better ally. *This book was provided to me by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.* Ace by Angela Chen comes out on September 15, 2020.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    YES YES & YES I feel so validated after reading this and it was also so enlightening. There is so much unpacked in this little book that I wish I could have people read this instead of ever having to explain myself to others. And yes, I do identify as asexual if someone reading this review has that question. The concepts that were discussed and all of the aspects of this book make it a great and educational read. It really breaks down the walls of sexuality and society and helps give voice to so YES YES & YES I feel so validated after reading this and it was also so enlightening. There is so much unpacked in this little book that I wish I could have people read this instead of ever having to explain myself to others. And yes, I do identify as asexual if someone reading this review has that question. The concepts that were discussed and all of the aspects of this book make it a great and educational read. It really breaks down the walls of sexuality and society and helps give voice to something so hard to even vocalize sometimes. It goes into so many intricate details that people don't automatically think of when they hear asexual. It breaks down those preconceived notions and validates all forms of asexuality. Bottom line is that it was fantastic! ALL THE STARS.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    When I first heard about this book earlier this year, I could barely wait until it was finally going to be published in September. I was counting the days. I thought I'd never needed a book more than I needed this book. That sounds dramatic, but the truth it...it's an understatement. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, I've never felt so seen by a book--or any piece of culture or media--in my life. And the way in which this book saw me, represented me, understood me, is so rare that it makes i When I first heard about this book earlier this year, I could barely wait until it was finally going to be published in September. I was counting the days. I thought I'd never needed a book more than I needed this book. That sounds dramatic, but the truth it...it's an understatement. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, I've never felt so seen by a book--or any piece of culture or media--in my life. And the way in which this book saw me, represented me, understood me, is so rare that it makes it all the more special and meaningful. Asexuality, while finally being a bit more recognized and a bit less ostracized, is still in desperate need of more of the former and less of the latter. Part of the reason I talk so much about being ace on FB and Instagram and such is because I want it to be out of the shadows and sidelines, to be fully part of the queer community, and for other ace folks to have an easier path to recognizing their identity. It's not exactly true that you can't be what you can't see, but it's a lot harder to be okay with being something that you don't see anywhere else. I love what Angela Chen has done with this book, too, the way she perfectly weaves together the personal, the political, the cultural, the psychological, the intangible. She talks about her own experiences and relates them to the larger whole; she brings in a wide array of voices--aces of color, trans and nonbinary aces, disabled aces, etc--and shows how all of their unique experiences are also part of that larger whole; and she explores the multitude of nuances that exist around asexuality and aromanticism in a way that always feels thoughtful and respectful and incisive. There as a lot that I nodded my head at and quoted on Litsy because I already knew and agreed with it, but there was also a lot of food for thought, things I'd never thought about or encountered myself, but were still so wonderful to learn about and to broaden my own understanding of the overarching ace community. I truly hope that other aces/aros pick up this book and have the same incredible experience as I did. I also hope that some allos (allosexual, someone who is not ace) will be open to reading it too, especially if they know and care about someone who is ace and wants to be a better friend, partner, supporter of that person. We are not jokes, we are not broken, we are not unimportant. And while we may be a small portion of the population, in no way does that diminish our worth or the validity of our lives and needs. I'm just...so fucking glad this book exists. I only realized I was ace in my mid-30s, and while I don't struggle with it and am happy the way I am, this book still gave me such comfort and reassurance that I didn't even know I needed. It's short but substantive, smartly written, readable, accessible, enjoyable, and fucking indispensable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    So at the beginning this book made me feel defensive and I almost stopped reading when she was like "First let's define being allosexual!" and starts going on about how allos just SEE SOMEONE like AT A BAR and they want to have sex with them!!! So weird!!! In a lot of ace discourse I've seen a lot of weird assumptions made about the indiscriminate horniness of allos, when having lower sex drives, responsive sex drives, not feeling sexual attraction until you get to know someone, not wanting sex So at the beginning this book made me feel defensive and I almost stopped reading when she was like "First let's define being allosexual!" and starts going on about how allos just SEE SOMEONE like AT A BAR and they want to have sex with them!!! So weird!!! In a lot of ace discourse I've seen a lot of weird assumptions made about the indiscriminate horniness of allos, when having lower sex drives, responsive sex drives, not feeling sexual attraction until you get to know someone, not wanting sex outside a loving relationship, etc. Have always been part of the normal allo continuum.. There just is a huge range of sexual variation that's normal, and I think making assumptions about what it means to be allo to prove your aceness is problematic. But, she kind of addresses the fact that the same feelings might lead one person to ID as ace and another to ID as allo and there's probably a reason each of these people gravitate towards their respective label and that gravitation means something in itself... To which I say, ok, that's fair. I thought a lot of her analysis was really interesting, and I loved reading about all the different ace experiences from her interviews. My partner is ace but they came to that conclusion away from the internet/community, so outside random posts floating around tumblr I haven't really been exposed to a lot of ace discourse.. She brought up a lot of stuff that I hadn't thought about before in exactly that light, so I'm glad I read the book from that perspective. But. I really hated the sections about her own life. I don't know if I just didn't really like her as a person/her voice, but I found these sections really annoying. She spends a lot of time trying to justify to the reader that she's actually ace even though she likes having sex with her boyfriend, which like.. girl, no one is trying to tell you that you're not ace? I just think it's a weird choice to include in the book, especially at such great length. Like clearly SHE feels insecure about whether she's actually ace or not and is projecting on the reader... Also, her first boyfriend wanted to be polyamorous and it made her insecure and it's obvious that she still has a chip on her shoulder about it. I think open relationships of various sorts are a pretty common way that allo/ace couples deal with sexual mismatch when they choose to stay together, but she barely discusses it outside mentioning that some of her interview subjects chose to do that. She also makes a point of letting us know that she wouldn't date another ace person because she likes to feel sexually wanted even though she's kind of meh about actually wanting the sex. Like, ok girl, you do you. So, my accurate star rating would be: Academic/interview sections: 4/5 Well researched, worth reading. Memoir sections: 1/5 This girl is profoundly annoying and sounds kind of vapid.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah⭐ The Ultimate Book Hoarder

    Obviously, I was going to love this. I've never felt so seen before. This book is not only an analysis of what being asexual entails, but it's also an overall perspective on sex and relationships in society. Chen discusses a range of important topics from how we put romantic relationships on a pedestal, to marriage rights and consent, to how we define sex itself and how it's not an intrinsic part of being human. Within in, she discusses her own personal relationships and how she found out more ab Obviously, I was going to love this. I've never felt so seen before. This book is not only an analysis of what being asexual entails, but it's also an overall perspective on sex and relationships in society. Chen discusses a range of important topics from how we put romantic relationships on a pedestal, to marriage rights and consent, to how we define sex itself and how it's not an intrinsic part of being human. Within in, she discusses her own personal relationships and how she found out more about herself through identifying as asexual and how society perceives and treats sexualities, to the point where we romanticise sex so much that the lack of sexual desire and attraction is still a booming industry in the pharmectucial sciences and can still be classified as a mental illness. Our society is so sexualised, which I already knew, but this book made me realise it even more. This book is also a comment on discrimination and exclusionism that still occurs in the ace community that makes disabled aces and POC aces feel like outsiders. It's a sign of hope for people who are in ace-allo relationships, and it made me personally feel so much better about my own relationship and fearing that it was doomed. Honestly, I need to re-read this because all the important points are slipping out of my brain and I WANT and NEED to remember them.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wiebke (1book1review)

    This should be mandatory reading. It is not only helpful and insightful for people on the ace spectrum but for everyone. This points out so many default ideas we have about sex and sexuality in the western world and the effects that has or can have on people. I listened to the audiobook and it was a great experience, although I regret not being able to point to specific things and quote the book to people in the future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I don’t always love nonfiction, the writing style sometimes reads too dense for me, but I found this SO readable and so heartfelt. there’s so much here to consider, not just about asexuality itself, but also about the ways amatonormativity seeps into every aspect of our culture, from relationships to parenting to consent to feminism. I loved this!!! I highlighted so much! (also omg my phone just autocorrected it to “a sexuality” which really sums up the problem doesnt it!)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Abbie | ab_reads

    Free copy received via Libro.fm Thanks to @bookplaits and @thestackspod for their great reviews and podcasts which bumped this book up my TBR! This is truly one of the most informative and eye-opening non-fiction books I've read this year, and one I think everyone should read if they can. Asexuality is not talked about enough, or even understood enough, among us, and Ace provides a brilliant, comprehensive and inclusive overview for Aces (asexuals) and Allos (non-asexuals) alike. . Angela Chen delv Free copy received via Libro.fm Thanks to @bookplaits and @thestackspod for their great reviews and podcasts which bumped this book up my TBR! This is truly one of the most informative and eye-opening non-fiction books I've read this year, and one I think everyone should read if they can. Asexuality is not talked about enough, or even understood enough, among us, and Ace provides a brilliant, comprehensive and inclusive overview for Aces (asexuals) and Allos (non-asexuals) alike. . Angela Chen delves into concepts like compulsory sexuality, hermeneutical injusitce, amatonormativity and much more, explaining everything concisely and clearly. It really opened my eyes to the way sexuality is so deeply embedded in society, that it's taken for granted that everyone is sexual and a lack of (socially approved) sexual attraction is a problem, unnatural or wrong. This ingrained sexuality is so harmful to aces, since it reinforces the notion that not feeling sexual attraction means they're broken. . Chen talked to tonnes of people for this book, and she makes sure it's as inclusive as possible. Gender, disability, race, class, sexual orientation, everything is considered and addressed. For instance, a wealthy woman with lots of sexual partners is more likely to be seen as liberated and living her best life, while a poor, working-class woman would be more likely to be seen as 'trashy'. Or the fact that some Black and Latinx women must contend with hyper-sexualised racial stereotypes when considering their own asexuality. I also found the section on asexuality among men really interesting, since masculinity is so inherently tied up in sexuality (think 'locker room talk') that ace men are often accused of being secret incels (involuntary celibates). Chen also addresses the overwhelming whiteness of the ace community and the lack of ace representation in the media. . Not a page is wasted in this book, and hopefully it paves the way for a lot more literature on asexuality - both non-fiction and fiction! Please pick this one up if you can, I literally haven't stopped thinking about it since I read it.

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